I’m writing this forward before the piece is even done. This should speak volumes about how intimate this experience has been to me and will forever be. Sure, some word plays and structures in what you’re about to read (why by the way?) were intentional. I gave them thought and directed them with my conscious skill. Most of it however was born burning, searing my insides. A lot of the process that went into this was vomiting. I found the words pouring from my fingertips, taking their own shape unto the electronic page. And this foreword as well. I simply woke up with the need to write it, regardless of the fact that the piece is not done. However, if there is anything that I have learned from this torturous journey, it is not to build dams or keys for these emotions.
I’ve written a few things before this but completed only a few. Mostly poems. Each time I set down to write something longer, the first few pages would fly. I would be excited, innovative and wholly immersed in the story I was creating. But I always felt that it was too primal. I couldn’t accept that this was writing. This thing that I love so much, stories, had to be more refined, less primal. And so, I constructed doors and channels, carefully structuring my wilder thoughts into something that could be recognized as literature. It wasn’t bad. I’m pretty good with dialogue and have read enough science fiction to have an inquisitive mind. But I always lost interest after the 15th page or so. It’s more than that; the interest was still there, but it felt dulled, distant. I couldn’t tap into my creative energies as I did in the beginning. Where I spent my days just dreaming of getting back to writing, I would dread free time, knowing that whatever I was working on would demand my attention. And I just didn’t have it in me to reach past all those barriers and keep writing.
So when I wrote the first part of the Demented World, Books, I was a bit shocked. Luckily, instead of recoiling away from that shocked, I tapped into it. From that was born Corners, the second part. My friends, the people who helped me through this taxing endeavor, will tell you what I told them: when my fingers quickly raced to the mouse and added “The Demented World – Part I” at the top of the screen, I had no idea why they were doing that. The ongoing structure of the piece was born far, far earlier than my thoughts on it or any plans I had. I added some embellishment of my own, but most of it was immediate, sub-conscious and blank to me. Now that we’ve discussed this I can get to the point of this foreword:
This foreword is a contradiction.
If there is a single theme that can be said to run through The Demented World, it’s the basic inability of humans to communicate. More than that, it is the basic fragmentation of the world around us, our basic inability to properly analyze, understand and process our own life. Therefore a foreword, what is essentially an attempt to give context or further shed light on the creation following it, is pointless. And that’s why you’ll notice I haven’r done it so far. I spoke of my own emotions or lessons learned but haven’t given you any information on what to expect. But the basic need of writing, the basic art of the writer, is to communicate. This is why I wrote The Demented World: I was trying to explain, to tell people how I feel. I found the medium of conversation to be too contained, not primal enough. And so I took to writing which is, in essence, a monologue. And I let most structures go and simply allowed the words to pour onto the page.
So, I do want to explain some things. You won’t find a primer to understanding what’s to follow. Indeed, I am not sure understanding is the purpose of it, if it even has a purpose. When reading this piece while it was being written, many of my friends asked me “What did you mean here?” or “are you sure that’s what you’re going for?”. And I usually replied “I have no idea. It is what it is”. However, there are three basic ideas that are addressed in The Demented World, along with countless minor thoughts, themes and motifs. This is why the piece is divided into three parts. Each one can be broadly (very broadly) described as handling a single idea:
A) Part Aleph deals mostly with the people and things around me. Surveying the world, I find mostly things that are shattered but believe themselves whole. Objects, people, goals, organizations, societies, try and present a whole and complete facade. But in fact, the cracks are apparent to the astute observer. This part deals with how it feels to be one of the aware of this situation and the loneliness that comes with it. In addition, the part begins to elaborate on the internal world that I encounter every day and the way my attempts to order it are meaningless. Alpeh is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
B) Part Berkanan deals with an internal conflict. This conflict flows over to the external world but is essentially motivated by an absence of an internal map with which to understand oneself. This is the most primal and basic emotion I deal with on a day to day basis. My own research into myself, searching for an ordered way to understand myself, has resulted only in chaos and shattering. I do not complain of this state since I believe it is prevalent in all humans, whether acknowledged or not. But, it is still difficult to handle and Part Aleph speaks a bit about that. Berkanan is the second letter in the Swedish alphabet.
C) Part Triennial finally turns towards some sort of peace. It ends on an unclear not though, so the exact method of handling the first two parts is unclear. If Part Aleph is my current life and Part Berkanan is my current state of internal affairs, then Part Triennial is the way I deal with them both. It deals with the basic difficulty of creating yourself in the face of all this shattered information and the necessity of internal power and security.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this…creation to several people without whom non of it could have been possible. To Keren, Yanai, Alon and Alona, the people who read through this shattered dream of words: the medium is too short to thank you or to express what your words and thoughts meant to me during this process. I love each of you a special love, tinted with its own colours and imperfections. Thank you.
To you reader, I must apologize. I hope you are able to view what you find next with compassion and forgive this feeble attempt at speech in a place of silence. Always remember:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
-Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
Stop. Just think of all the books. Try and picture them: all those fucking books. They’ve been printed. And then what? How many of them will go unread? Do you not feel this feeling of the shadow of all the printed books? They outnumber us by the tens. They’re everywhere: sure, in the libraries but that’s safe, right? They’re in the homes though, on the street corner, in the shops. Everywhere, these sad, lonely creatures. Unread books. Just picture them, really try and feel the cover, the spine, unopened. The pages crisp from misuse.
Umberto Eco is a bastard. He says the book will never die. Well, gee, thanks. Have you ever thought about the books? Stuck, like our half-dead elderly, kept alive by the machines of maybe-someone-will-read-me. But no. They won’t. Not because they don’t read (which we don’t) but because there’s so many of you. You’re like pandas in reverse: some fucked up genetics have screwed your reproduction system and you can’t fucking stop. Just stop. Stop writing yourselves, stop pollinating our thoughts, stop incubating in our shadows. Stop.
Just think of all the books. Really try and think about them.
And when you’re done, you’ll just move on. Your hands might touch them but your minds are long past. The words are unspoken; maybe that’s the hardest part. Think of being a book, having all those words fucking burning in your stomach. And you want to speak them, to spit them, to vomit them, and the only way you can do that is with this alien, this stranger, called Man. And Man? He looks away. And you’re alone, together with all these “friends”, all these “relatives”, forced upon you by the virtue of ink and page and letters and all that fucked up shit you didn’t even ask for. Fuck, just think of the books!
Books. What will become of them? God, I hope they die. God? The God of Books. What a pathetic creature that must be, even more so than the God of Man. A library card perhaps, floating in the discarded corridors of the cosmos. Meandering about, moping, trying to read his children, to open his children to Man, to open Man to his children. But his voice is parched, is parchment, the throat is filled with ink, the Blood of his children. And there’s probably a fucked up, reverse eucharist, since the God of Man can’t keep out of anything. “Hoc est verbum”, and the bread turns to words and the wine turns to the ink and my tears are still tears. Weeping for the books.
The thing that really gets me though is the corners. Not the geometrical ones, listen, I’m talking about corners. These corners, they’re everywhere. I see them when I’m driving, when the rain is on the window and in my mind and all I can think is: fuck, I’d really like to go to that corner, between that tree and the ruined fence and just curl up and sleep. And they’ll find me, I have no illusion of that, this is no utopia. Why are all the utopias solitary? I’ll go over to that corner and I’ll just be in it and it would be fine. I mean, I know it won’t because all the cares and fears will come with me to that corner. But in some way, fuck I have to think that in some way, it will be better.
Who put the corners there? Between the rusted pipe and that parking van that seems as if they haven’t been using in years, who put that there? Fuck that, who put it in me? Is that it, there’s a corner inside me and it’s crying out to all the corners out there? And that corner, the disused space between what I am and could be, is that the place that cries, alone, at night? Cries from remembering all those corners, all those places I know nothing about but still long to be in, for them to be in me? Fuck, there was this one between the underpass and that copse of sad, wavering trees. I nearly cried as the bus just kept driving, bashing my hands against the windows “stop the fucking bus, look at that corner! Listen to that corner!”
I remember one outside of Prague. I was so alone. I was looking for my place, for that feeling that I knew would come, and it wasn’t there. It seemed the corner was gone but I knew it was there, like a bell that has rung years ago but you can still hear the echoes. I was starting to freak out, nails digging into my pockets. Where was it, where was the cry, why was I not feeling? When it struck, fuck, when it struck me it was like a thousand pens writing, a thousand elephants on the gates of my Roman soul, a thousand Brahmans dying. A simple thing; caught between what was surely once a proud house and was now a filtered out shell of miserable human life and a curb of a dirty pavement. It was so loud, so imminent, that I started crying, in a fucking street in a fucking Prague, a corpse of history if there ever was one.
And everything else was empty after that.
Consider the Lictor. The executioner. The carnifex. He is dragging my wounded soul, not to be confused with my soul, through the ragged square of every minute. Saying he is always there means nothing, because there is no “there” or “when” without him. How then can I describe him? But I must. I look through the goggles of night, bewildered and guided by my tears. I’ve always read that tears obscure vision, some sort of film that covers the cornea. But I was born with broken eyes, my cornea never more than a small padlock on the eternal doors to the wounded soul. There’s a book where a hero falls into a bar and two monsters fall into a pit. I feel reversed, the pit into which heroes fall, the bar where monsters drink, long hail the King!
There are no Kings without Lictors just like there is no me without words, no thought without paragraphs, no pain without books.
Through the square, then, he drags the naked woman, my wounded soul, grasping her by hair long made brittle by considerations and after-thoughts and after-despairs. His other hand, the second fist also clenched, holds the sword. Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to tell you about the sword. But not today. The twisted nevers that make up the buildings, all second-story abandoned, empty hovels of lost breaths and lost hopes and lost coats, frame her face with silent words. You do not deserve her face. It un-shines, un-calls, un-winds but you do not deserve it. The Lictor doesn’t care. Bespectacled with the vision that comes with prayer, he gazes through and out and sideways into the never-place through which he walks, where the minutes breathe. In my fragile hours, places of love and doubt and longing, I try to work the writer’s tool, empathy. I try to see-feel-think like the Lictor, try to feel my boots, armoured, ripping apart the fabric of the square, holding the woman, holding the sword. These are usually the moments where I come the closest to insanity. The worst thing about those moments, is that you’re supposed to hear voices but I hear nothing, silence, except the thump-clang-thump-clang of the Lictor’s-mine own iron boots tearing the cobbles.
So through that place he walks. And all your Freuds will now chime in of phallic symbols! and mother complexes! taboos and ancient rotes! and to them I say, mark these well:
The carnifex is real. Consider the Lictor. I have not managed to say a word about him.
These are not necessarily the things that have happened. These are the folded vestiges, the almost-reals, of who I was and still could be. Give me a break, OK? I am trying to love and exorcise these things at the same time. All I ask from you is silence, which is more than you have ever given me. These are the sharpened ridges. Curling up now, I try not to cry. Hold. Look back. The Lictor is close, holding his sword above the infinitesimal memorabilia that is my identity. I am trying to love and exorcise these things at the same time. I regret giving birth to him. The books, they were there. The corners, they were there. But The Lictor, I have birthed him from inside the outside of my mind, where my shadow sleeps and my skin is reversed and the cursed man with the sword hunts what is left of my self-loathing.
These are the demented. They live in a world which I attempt to describe but must fail to, time and again. Like the fucked up panda-books, they breed without stopping, without thought or will or appetite. I am nothing to them, nothing more than their creator, which is nothing much. There is a general outline to this world, as much as there can be an outline for a dictionary of the untold, the unspoken, the un-uttered. This is what it is: an ocean. People always say, oh the ocean is so blue! and I’ve always thought blue? this ocean is black, what is wrong with you. It’s possible that this is the proto-ocean. Proto-black.
In any case, we stand now on an island. This is a safer place but not a safe place. There are no safe places in the Demented World. By decree of the King but we must not speak his name too often here. Why? I don’t know. When I do, the flock of books in the distance cries loudly, shattering what is left of the air in this primal place, in this no-land and all-land, proto-land. I can see more islands in the distance, but the water is deep and black and there is much of it, planet-loads of it, universes-loads, mind-loads. We shall swim. We shall attempt the crossing. We will probably fail, as much as everything can fail in a place that’s already failed to exist.
Much has been said of maps, in many places. There is a map for this place, in spite of what you might expect which is in itself the answer to this riddle. Proto-riddle. I lost the map. I seem to remember being born with the map but random chose, as far as random chooses, to inscribe it on the back of my shattered cornea. So, the map has been shattered and the Demented World has been shattered. Which first? Proto-shattering, the first shattering, was it the world or was it my cornea or was it something else, some glue and substance that is holding this soul-archipelago in place?
In the wake of this cicada-swarm, I fear the only thing left will be my sanity. I walk into the water. Proto-water.
I’m wounding myself in order to write these words. We’re off the island, bye-bye relative safety and sand. I am buoyant in the water, it won’t take my weight. But my blood, my blood is heavy. A dead-weight of wounds, a scab of memories. So I wound myself and I sink. It seems the only thing I can do, devoured by the darkness of the ocean. Darkness, remember, not blue. Not a fairy tale kingdom from a book, no minarets made from coral. This ocean is currents of thought process, beds of identity, schools of fish-fears. Somehow though, for the first time since I have set on this journey, I feel a modicum of peace. Like victims of hypothermia; once you let go, all that might have bothered you is hugged in the cold, embraced into this permeating freedom that stems from everywhere. Like an ocean. An ocean of ice.
Why words? Why have I chosen words to express these things? Did I have a choice? It seems as though not, as if all my arsenal is words and words, decked and arrayed and shined and polished. They look different: long words, short words, shocking words, boring words, words words, not-words words, words in a sentence, words in a sentence, words not in a sentence, boring words, frail words, strong words, words words and so forth, stretching out on this ocean bed. But they’re all words. Rotting here, in the depth of the ocean. Every once in a while, one brakes free and strives for surface. Oh. I know this one. This is Freud’s Iceberg, isn’t it? I never imagined it was a place, but why not I suppose? If corners and books and the Lictor’s square are actually places, why not the Iceberg?
Wait. Not-words words? What are those? I pick at the space left by them, the caves that they dig with their flaming not-bodies into the Iceberg. These places, before the ocean rushes in, are where I live, are they not? When I am in the ocean that is. Yes, I swim to one now, created by the not-word “Love”. It has scorched a flaming, scorching, embracing, caressing tunnel into the Iceberg. There is air there and a little space to sleep, in the nook created by the not-word “Love”. But the ocean thunders at the door, thunders at the space created for me by this not-word. Of course it does. It is in the nature of oceans to flow. There are many who try to stop the ocean: philosophers, artists, scientists, me, my mother, dream. Fear. Pain. Kings.
Where is the King? I think the ocean killed him.
I can see a bridge now. The bridge. Think of how many bridges we have taken and lost and taken again. “We” as in us, whatever this throbbing mess called humanity is. “Corsica has taken the bridge! Rome has taken the bridge! France has taken the bridge! Athens has taken the bridge! Israel has taken the bridge! Corinth has taken the bridge!” It’s like a talk-show game, a prime time ditty to amuse the mind. Instead though, it leaves me beggared, a parched man in the middle of a storm of tipping glasses. In a way, the bridge emulates who we are and what we do. Racing constantly along it, frozen by the dark waters that from time to time nudge us as if saying “hey, look across the bridge. We’re an ocean not a tide.” An ocean, not a tide. I try to remember where that’s from, why I know that line.
Right. I’m drowning. The waters of the ocean have raced into this place carved by the not-word Love. And all I can see is the bridge, impossibly close and impossibly me. Its edges are familiar, the long traced scar of sadness and wanting-to-be-there. All not-words. All spaces, left by me for the future discovery by myself. I’m really trying to stay coherent but the waters, the freezing waters, are making it impossible, like it’s impossible to keep a regular breath after drinking a cold, tall glass of water. It’s the same feeling: grasping for sweetness, choking on sweetness, breathing on sweetness, vomiting on sweetness. It starts to make sense, as the water crowds around me, leaving black spots at the edges of my vision. I can see, inside them, all those people cheering for the bridge, for the taking of the bridge. While the tide becomes an ocean.
I used to think the cheering was to silence. To quiet the turning of the tide into an ocean, even as the waters take their toll and plant those not-visions of black spots at the edge of everyone. The cheering hardens the edge of everyone, gives them the feeling, the sight, the notion that the edges fit, that the puzzle is not broken. That we’re something to be cherished. But this is all false. The cheering is the edge of everyone. The cheering is the place that makes you take the bridge, which makes you give a damn about fucking bridges in the first place. I mean, what good are bridges, except for the crossing? And what cares about crossing other than an edge? The edge of everyone wants to be the edge of everything, the edge of allthatis. And so, we cross the bridge, and cheer and laugh and think “oh this is wonderful everyone has an edge just like me that must mean we can all fit together right?”
No. Wrong. At least not for me but am I alone? The edge of everyone grates on, grinds on, grins on. It’s much worse than the roaring of the ocean. The edge of everyone doesn’t fit; it’s not a puzzle you can solve. But we linger on; linger at the edge, trying to make sense of the noise, trying to find the song of communion in the cacophony that is the screaming of the edge in the face of everyone. Because we’re afraid. We’re afraid that there is no song, no sense to this endless screech of horror at the meeting of everyone, at the fulcrum of everything, at the joining of allthatis, that there is only pain and sound and horror in this place where we are supposed to join. To join. To cross the bridge. To silence the sound, to hear the sound, to hear the song. Grasping at the notes of the familiar, of the same, of “look he’s just like me” when in fact the notes are out of tune and the octave is not the same and you’re singing words forgotten by both of you since before you were born, by your parents and whatever silent, twisted, conductor first wrote the lines.
I’d much rather drown than live at the edge of everyone. Goodbye, the edge of everyone. I’m going towards the water. Proto-water.
Open. Open your eyes. Open your throat. Feel the water sliding down, inside that sore spot in the middle of your jugular, that parched place that never seems to end. The dark waters of my silent attempt, my desperate struggle to drown myself, should be reaching you by now. I can’t really know though. Like listening to Titan, like fingering the sand on the beach in the hope that it will call out my name and, finally!, I will be let free, there is no way for me to know if you’re hearing this. In any case, open your eyes and your throat and drink deep. Taste that? Maybe. That’s the water of life, derived from the worm. That’s my tearing of the veil, through which you see faint glimmers of life, faint echoes of thought, faint screams of love.
Write about this, I tell myself, turn the eye towards the blank space where all the words and not-words die. OK, fine, I’ll try. It’s so hard, this point, where everything clenches, not just my throat and eyes and heart but me, I clench, a tired, flaky fist grasping my own tail, pulling towards a place that is far worse than an Abyss. Far worse. This is where the veil is made, woven from my own frozen blood, cast about my eyes and throat. But, and this is no paradox for there is no dox in such a place, this is also where the water is distilled and poured and lovingly made possible. This is where the clear stream, the rough fountain, the babbling brook, all stem from the crux, from the terminus, from where I thought that nothing could be born.
Is this healing then? Are these writings, babblings, screams, are they my attempt to reach that place, to breach whatever seal often lies on that place? To make the water flow? It flows now and I dive deep, immersed in the shattering, healing, freezing waters of my own attempt to drink deep. Swimming now, I come upon the place where the veil is made. Giant machines of flowing nothing, endless devices of my fears, of my desires, of my untold lies, those places that even the eye cringes to look upon, where even light is sullied. And it too is washed. It too is washed and not made clean, no, allowed to keep its dirt. Made into the water, woven into the stream, made into a veil of the stream, all those places are joined in what? I can’t find the word for what this is. Not even a not word.
And the veil and stream, however unnamed they may be, tear. And from the bed where the water has flown, from the air where the veil was raised, come the faint screams, the faint echoes, the faint glimmers. Of what though? How can I name this, how can I name you, how can I name myself? The sand is mute and I still don’t have any way to know if you are hearing this. The great disconnect, back on whatever Titan or Europa you supposedly inhabit, on whatever lonely island (oh the island) that you might stand on, I can’t go, don’t you understand? I can’t go. I can’t know. If the waters of this silent attempt even reaches that parched place at the base of your throat.
Open your eyes. Don’t you see? I’m just a book. Unread. I am the fucked up panda in reverse, I can’t stop copulating with myself, fucking myself, birthing myself, loving myself and then fucking again and then birthing again and then loving again. Can’t stop, can’t drink, can’t read, can’t be read. Inhabited by not-words, infested with not-words, I am unread but written, alive but constant, changing but not-moving. I’m just a book. Fuck, how I wish I could burn this library, this shelf I inhabit, you besides me, just another fucking book, stuffed with your own not-words. All unread.
I think I owe you an explanation. This is a good time for it, since we seem to be climbing up the dry, inviting arms of another island. And this is the crux of what needs explaining: how is it that I am drowning, and running across paved pavements, and on an island, and inside myself? This is a stupid question, but we’ll come back to that. You see, even now my breath comes quicker, my throat is tight and my lungs just won’t draw in the precious poison called air, just won’t do their job of pumping life and memories and thoughts into my body. It’s pathetic to say you’ve discovered you are broken, since you always were. Admitting that you’re broken is not the embarrassing part, admitting that it’s taken you so long, is.
If the world we inhabit is a garden then we’re all birds of paradise, birds of our own desire, croaking and chirping “I’m broken”. But once in a while a bird finds its voice and is silent. I met such a bird, a long time ago. She was the most beautiful bird I’d ever heard, even when she was speaking. But when she grew silent, that’s when my heart started listening, that’s when my tears started articulating the sheer depth of the wounds she’d left in me. And I drew towards the wounds. The puckered flesh around them spewed words, like the mucus from an infected fingernail, like the glistening, viscous excrement of a vile disease or boil. And in front of the ocean, under the witness of stars, I lanced my wounds, the hot red needle of my own self-loathing, self-love, self-hunger. And still, she was silent. And finally, there was nothing more to speak of. And that’s when I grew curios, for the silence that I had seen in her was growing in me.
And I came to slowly understand that she had already spoken all that she needed to say, already uttered all she thought of this world and it wasn’t much. And in the wake of her truthful speech, short and short-lived, like all truths are, there was nothing more she could do but be silent. Her eyes spoke of depths but she was silent. Her smile spoke of promises, but she was silent. Her embrace spoke of safety, but she was silence. And, slowly, I came to love that silence, came to gravitate towards the core I could feel pulsating in the middle of it, a quasar of emotions, a quasar of love and distance, a quasar of her. And I dove. Head first into the immense stream of bewildering emotions, head first into an ephemeral river in the middle of her silence. And it was divine. And it’s never stopped wounding me since. But the wounds are not angry; they are not diseased or infected. I wear them with pride. Now, they stream silence, they evoke separation and an eerie chill that binds us together. An eerie chill that says this is us, you are them, there is nothing for you here. Only our silence is here and we offer it, her and I, and you can take it, or leave it, or freeze, or none but that’s all we have for you. I pity Jesus.
How is this an explanation? Well, this is all created now. In the center of the silence there is no creation. And for some reason, I am flawed. I must create. I must create myself. This is the true manner in which I am broken. I cannot really be content with the silence. While she sits there, alone, at peace, in silence, I must walk and rage and wage and anger and heat and laughter and madness and beauty and all that which she has no need for. And I must write. I must articulate the silence, which is a stupid thing to do. I told you the question is stupid. And that is the question I’m asking, even though it’s stupid and can never be answered: how is it that I am running and drowning and on an island and inside my self, all the while part of me is in the silence? And all of this, this island I have constructed, this ocean we have been swimming, the iceberg, the bridge, the books, the corners, the King, the cicada swarm, all that is to come and yes, even the Lictor, all of this is my answer.
Sorry. I tried. I think I’ll go cry now.
“We are the Dismantled” is what I would write if I still cared about any of you. But that was a long time ago, before the islands, before the faucet broke and this ocean was poured from where your dirty fingernails broke into my skin, the only skin I ever had. “We are the Dismantled” I would write and would follow with something like “and so we are doomed to walk, together and alone, through a weeping jungle, this world that is all we, being Dismantled, really ever had”. But that’s not what I’m going to write, since you fucking pushed me off the path, drowned me in the tears of the jungle, set fire to the hive, to the trees, to the leaves that cried as they tried to softly shelter me from your nails, your dirty appendages digging into my skin, the only skin I ever had.
You are the Dismantled. You are the shattered left overs of yourself, the hanging skin, nearly detached, from where your core should have been, from where you should have been, if you had any fucking guts, any valor, any truth to you at all. Truth is not a term I use willingly but the absence of it in you is so apparent, so glaringly bleeding, so profusely screaming the filth that has been born from the half-measured surgery you preformed on yourself, that I cannot ignore it. It reeks. Where you should have been, where you should have built yourself, there is only a gaping hole. Where the foundations should have been. You dug that hole, you see, you dug it searching for some pre-conceived foundations your god, or your parents, or your society, or your savior, or whoever the fuck you believe in this Tuesday should have given you. You focused on the digging rather than the building, not knowing that there is no capsule, no message, no warm season greetings, no blueprint that is buried, nothing for you to excavate.
They are the Dismantled. Look at them, your brothers and sisters, your doppelgangers, your mirrors. Shattered, bewildered, thinking they are lost. You made them think they are lost. Do you understand how fucked up that truly is? You took these people, these brave, depraved, sickening, amazing, beautiful, ugly, wrecked, insane, genius people and you convinced them there was a road. That the foundations would unfold, that the path would be made clear. If they only kept digging. So they dismantled themselves for you, gave up on building and focused on digging, digging into their own dirt, the earth that was not even there. For they hadn’t built the earth yet, do you see? You caught them so early, snatched them from the cribs, that they didn’t even have time to build the earth. “And god said ‘Let there be Light, so they may search all their lives, let there be Darkness, so they may think it hides the truth, let there be Me, so that there will never be a You”. Thus you spoke.
I am not the Dismantled. That’s why you will kill/is killing/have killed me. Look, you’ve sullied my island. I’d threaten you with their revenge, but the idea is so preposterous that my laughter will accompany me back to the ocean. Hello, cicada swarm. Here we are again. Look at the Dismantled. They will try to follow me, cicada swarm. Try not to let them OK?
The cicada swarm hates you Dismantled. At least I can count on these alien, blood thirsty, sex thirsty, cyclic creatures to protect me. In the process they shall devour me, as is only just. Goodbye Dismantled. The cicadas will soon fill my own blank space, the blank space you created. And then, I will forget you. And I hope that, once forgotten you will disappear. But I have learned not to count on hope. I’ll be seeing you around, Dismantled.
Season’s greetings from me, your god.
Give in. The softest moment, the delicate crux of what is bound to birth pain, is when the water first embraces you. You can feel the tension of the water, that thin line that we think we can see when looking sideways at our glass. I was always captivated by the way water hugged my skin. Small colonies of something so close to you, so close to you and yet not you. Fascinated, I bowed into the water, completely falling into something that was awaiting me, awaiting to hold me. I used to ask my mother about it incessantly. She would smile and say something adults say when they know all their answers will run out. That moment, the unique summation of the fall that had preceded it, is my moment. When the thin film of the water closes around your mouth and nose and eyes, that softest moment when you are not drowning but knowing that you are going to drown. You can feel the panic that will hold you, but you are not in its embrace yet.
Give in. This is what they tell you with their two minutes YouTube videos talking about NEW, new-science new-thought new-politics new-mind, NEW. And they tell you these things that you have always known and spoken about and they take them for their own. You’ve been trying so long, I’ve been trying so long, to make people see the OLD, to gaze back towards a place that cannot be solved, and take it as their lab, take it as their easel, take it as their pen and paper and tears as ink. And now the new-fonts glaringly scream and the logo is well designed, and the speaker is well dressed but not too well dressed, and he’s just enough geeky to be appealing to the NEW but not geeky enough to be his own person, to be his own flesh, to show any signs of ever having entered the lab, or picked up the easel or used his tears as ink.
Give in. There are moments when even the ocean is a floor and I can sense that only running will turn it back to water, only running will give it a semblance of the horrid, beautiful things I used to love. It has solidified; broken and then gathered again by a cruel hand, an unseeing hand that only knows how to scoop, scoop and devour, scoop and devour. Nothing is achieved by running of course, since the field itself is the back of the hand, the boundaries towards which you run are only the dirty irises of the face that directs the hand, the sickly orifices which give vision to a thing which was never meant to see but craves only sight. I tried, I tried to scoop the ocean and use it to clean the irises, to turn the dirt into mud and then wipe it off.
Give in. I am running now, looking for a hole, a break in the surface that has formed over the one place I really hate and really love, the one place where there is both a madness and an ending, the one place where there is both a sanity and a beginning, the one place where I can feed on the not-words. Burn the words, seize the emotions, forget the swarm and the cobble stones and the giant eye flickering in the light of the fatal wound I myself inflicted on the sky, the fatal wound that I myself gashed across my own ribs, my own throat, my own heart, my own lungs, my own, swollen, devolved, rotten, collapsed brow that once housed my mind. The eye, the same eye that moves the hand that scoops, it was my own eye. That’s why I had to tear it out, you see? And as if you didn’t have enough words that basically told you nothing about what I am doing here, this is all the blood that still drips, that is still dripped, that is drawn and leeched and lanced and sucked from that original wound.
Give in. I look for the hole. I long for that sweet moment before my face hits the water. It is all expectation. I was told this by the nightmare of many men: “But who is that man who lies submerged? Perhaps that swimmer is both sinner and saint, until he is revealed unto the eyes of man”.
I do not believe in either sinners or saints or men but I do believe in eyes and swimming and being submerged and lying. Most of all I believe in lying. Dying.
I’ve been to the galactic core. In the utter silence of a day that never was, I sat on a hill that was not my own and flew. The void was massive but I believed that on the other side, I might find something else, someone else. When I arrived there, softly etched into the cloud that was its edge, a common ground of silky stars that pulsated with a massive light, were words that shook with a feathery light. Consider writing, the magic of humans, the only thing we have that comes close to the wonders of nature like snails or leaves or radiation or snails. Slithering, we can leave our mark across parchment and that comes in many forms: paper, hearts, leather, stars, snails. We can choose to break off a piece of our inner furnaces and burn across, but gently, our chosen surfaces, our chosen messages. And these words pulsate and grow and slowly stretch, flimsy fingertips that cajole and beckon and push. They are fists and handshakes both, greetings and condemnations, blessings and casus belli.
So, on the core there were softly etched five words that I was surprised to find. After all, I thought as I looked around, there was nothing more alone than this, nothing more central. Central is used by people to denote crowded, not alone, full of people or meaning. But that is not a center at all, that is an outskirt. The core, the galactic core, is a place that is alone in itself, so silent it reeks, so unique it shatters its own borders, its own craters, its own snails. So, you can imagine my surprise at finding writing there. Who could trace it? What hand had softly grazed the molten, searing surface and left its intentions there? And, more importantly perhaps, how had it known to write these words in a language I would know? Now, I know what you are thinking, that all these facts only lead to one conclusion, as inexorable as an exercise in logic, drawn towards the end of its own arc like a snail towards, well, the end of its own arc.
But no, that doesn’t make any sense, and I’m trying to make a little more. I’ve already told you, this was when I first found the galactic core. But, this is not the ocean. There are no edges here, in spite of one you might find if you carefully look at what I’ve already told you, which was just a form for you to better understand. It’s a new thing, bear with me. In any case, this is not the ocean, so I can’t create or discover the edges, the others who plagued me or plagued me on. In this new place, I am not the pen nor the ink, not the blood or the ligament. I am simply me, guided as I often am by a burning star, which calls out to the core, calls out to the other stars around it. Again, you’re trying to make these limits, to make these mean something but there is one feature the core shares with the ocean: we hate your borders.
So, the mystery of what’s written on the core remains unsolved. I can tell you the contents, but that won’t solve the mystery:
“Hoc est verbum”.
I am now internalized. The processes which lead me to look outwards are no longer running, although their derelict corpses are still fuming with the hot metals that powered them. Was it the green fumes of their expulsion, the silvery haze of their denial, which originally ejected me from the outside world and injected me into my own arc? There will be many questions forthcoming, even more than in the ocean, but I do not think that the chances of answers erupting from between this void and my void are high. There is only one thing that can be described as high here and that is the static that is engulfing the breach between my void and the void, between my body and silence. Where am I? There are only drunken stars, liquid filled chalices that brim over with aching and pain and longing and broken parts which only fit too well. Everything fits too well. Wasn’t silence supposed to be foreboding, wasn’t fear supposed to be, well, a thing you should fear?
I was told so many things. And all those things have squatted, taken residence in my void, struck roots into the firmament of my imaginings. And thus, all self-shadows become fearful daggers, all self-towers became derelict hulks, all self-tears become rivers of molten hearts, fields of ravaged stories, plains of murky deals. Traitors of shattered dreams. In the coming and goings of this flowing bickering, I was once lost. The problem is not that. The problem is that I have been found, found myself. It all fits too well. It’s like my arms have been gnawed on by horrid beasts, a painful experience no doubt. But the worst thing is not the blood that flows, or the pain that jabs or the loss of ability or the fear of a disabled future: it’s that the gnawed edges fit into the holes I find all around me, as if the same beast that has fed on me has also fed on the world and we, two shattered dancers that we are, come together beautifully, like a piece made for a puzzle or a sword made for the heart. And in that connection, I want to rejoice. But in the last moment, right before we connect, I can feel the betrayal. The holes fit too well, the silent hiss of joining is too forced, everything smells just like it should. It smells of an orchestra, built just for me, that lulls me into who I should be and will not.
And in the end, what is there to fear? Why should I dread the pulsating stars that silently bow towards a forgotten center, as if of silk fly on a broken wind, dancing to the gestures of my gnawed hands that seamlessly fit into the holes all around me? I was told so many things, but I find that they are all correct, and this is what bothers me most of all. I want to know they are wrong, but I no longer have the capacity for that, like the crippled-me from before, dreading the disabled future with no hands. What is there to fear? This is what I must answer and cannot, this is the word that must complete the sentence but will not, since the syntax of this place, this “the void” cannot contain such actions, cannot accentuate such syllables. At least before, I had tools, I had ways to describe what it felt like when the water was clawing my throat. The essence of this mount: when I was in the ocean all seemed broken but hadn’t even begun to break. Now that all is mended, it seems as if it hasn’t even begun to break but all is broken.
What is there to fear? Weren’t you fucking listening when I was drowning in the ocean? Maybe now that I’m in my void, the certain answer I have wretched might echo more:
Wings. Fear the wings.
And so, I find myself falling inside, inexorably drawn towards the core. Like tepid water that gathers at the bottom of a sink, filled with the fragments of all that it was used to clean (cups, plates, knives, wounds, pain), inexorably held in the hands of a newborn mother, permanently thralled in the arms of a never-shaking father. There is cold where I am, always the cold. I was bred to fear it, to slowly withdraw from the boundless tundra of inside. Flames of self-worth and goals were supposed to burn away the snowness of Introvertia, to leave the ground ready for sowing. But I haven’t. I haven’t withdrawn, I haven’t lit the flames. They burn, like the stars, with a distant fire that is too hot to be called cold, but too cold to be called embracing. The ground is ready but there will be no sowing.
There will be no sowing. I fail to see how the wheat, flowers, palm trees, olive groves, silent orchards of sweet-too-sweet apples, will take root here. There is only cold, only the self-hugging gesture of solitude. A half-smile is my plow; a swept-back tear is my rake. Alone, I am the farmer of my own apartness, the tender of the garden of discontent. At the weekend market, they will all have bounties to display, boothfuls of embraces, stocks of smiles and well-meant words. I will empty sacks, worn out cloth barely holding the non-commodity that is the only thing I could ever fill them with. The non-commodity of starkness, the unattainables of who I am.
The unattainables of who I am. This is what it is all about. In the end, the silent gesture that I would choose were I forced to choose a defining one, would be the shrug. But how can I be like that? Harder, how can I become that? And thus, I wander. The ocean, the core, the void, the silence, the Lictor, the King, the wings, the cicada swarm, it’s all just facets of the same shrug, faces of the same chill. The chill of my own thoughts. Like a child before a freezing bowl of ice, all that is possible for me is to shove my hands into it, to feel the frost, pain, memory, the shed moments of the past, the discarded words of paths frozen to apathy. All I can do is shove my hands into it and be burned once again, at the core of cold. The core of cold.
The core of cold. Somewhere off the middle of the void, that core is held. In the slightly not centre of energies I must never fathom, that core is ever-frozen, perma-silenced. All the rest, is a dance. The skirting of the waves of energies, a surfing of solar winds, on electro-magnetic wings, repelled by the particles that clash as the core radiates. I am a butterfly. A butterfly of winter, a butterfly of deep-encrusted streams, of rivulets of ice that gather at the edges of myself. I collect them. I melt them. I re-freeze them. I survey them.
And then I write them. And then I run them down your neck.
I should learn how to keep some things hidden. I once encountered letters carved in stone, on a side path somewhere, which read “they paint not in light, but in shadow”. This sentence has plagued me ever since, especially now that I am floating, not surrounded by any water or other forms of embrace. I feel as though I suffer acute hypothermia, not an uncomfortable sensation. Hypothermia of the need to share, a bleeding of things inside into a depressurized outside, an escaping of troubled radicals into a stagnated void. Picture a thin trail of blood leaving my side, snaking through a black on black void. Red. Painful red. The thread twists and bites, like a core unleashed. The current, my inside. The flow, my pain. The medium, words. The point, missing.
In this void, few rules are maintained. The awful, relentless, impossible cliché that all actions must have reactions is not maintained. That rule was the first thing chucked, the first magic written on discarded clay and then burned in the fires of the stars. Few rules though have survived the inexorable transition that was forced upon this space. Power is inverted, meaning is optional, cold is lasting. Into this triangle, my crimson snake, the cord that cannot be broken, the caudal lure is lowered. What prey do I call? What endings do I flirt with, in placing such integral doorways into my own void, bare and open to all who would tread it?
This is a far cry. We are long detached from the books and corners, long come down, past the stepping stones, over the breaching wall. But I persist. Why do you? Reader, I must address you. I feel as if a great injustice is being done to you, you the holder of the crimson line, you that tugs on my sides, goads my ribs and coats my current, my ever-flow outside. Can you feel the cold, reader? Can you feel the inversion of power, the optionality of meaning? This is my madness: I keep clawing at my head, at my scalp, at the place between my ribs where the cord connects. Do you know? Can you feel? Will you tread my integral doorways, left open for you? Why would you?
This is the absurdity of all of this, one I grow weary of retracing. No matter how many doorways I leave open, what current I launch through the crimson cord, I don’t want you to follow. Inaccurate. There is a part of me that doesn’t want you to follow. All my other parts create this rambling, draw the cord, tear the doorway, inverse the power, optionalize the meaning. But there is one part that is shivering right now, in a cold wind that enters from the window to the void. It crumbles into itself, it is plagued by goose bumps, it shudders in the wake of your breath. The memory of the wake, the slightest potential that you will enter. A pointless game but one which I cannot stop.
I don’t have the rules for stopping, only for going. And so, I go. I play my turn, moving worn out pieces on a yellowed board, floating through the void. Such colors! Red, yellow, black, blue, ocher, sadness, pink, indigo, fear, madness, pain, vermilion. While the part of me that is most me shivers, bewildered in the barrage of colors and emotions, cradled in the swooning motion of the stars. Look, the door is open. Follow it please don’t come in will you oh god stay out no enter come inside never please leave me alone i am waiting for you don’t take the first step inside i’ve left the door open don’t use it tread the path please please please don’t. Don’t.
I think the biggest lie you’ve ever told me is that I’m similar to you in some way. This was so sinister that words fail me when I attempt to measure it. It is the silent murder at the base of all of this. Fitting, now that we stand at what I’d like to imagine, hope and force to be the middle of this journey. Fitting, that we should touch base with the inherent crime that drives me, fuel for the dreaded engine, ropes for the endless machine. It was a simple gesture, left to right, that slit my throat, urging the blood to flow, to bite, to change everything. I expected you to cup your hands and soak deeply of my life-blood. That would have been acceptable at that point, a natural step once we have accepted that you killed me. But no. You stepped away, your face askew in fascination, considering the crimson-shed torrent of myself. Why? How? None of these came to your mind. Yes, I presume to know you. It’s all there, etched into the knife you used, the only mark I will leave on this world.
I faced death and longed for the nod, the look of approval from the only thing left to me. Nights I spent awake, staring, feeling the blood slowly pumping over my chest, hands and blanket. I waited for the ceiling to collapse, for the fan to stop, for the windows to shatter, for my mind to let go. Surviving was not an option, never once crossing my animal mind. But I lived. How, is unclear. You know that pain when you smash your knee against a corner in just that way, that numbing throb that seems to disappear but echoes through the rest of your day, slowly undulating in the back of your mind, coloring all your encounters? Like so. Like so I rose from my bed each morning, surveying the ellipse of the world with echoing eyes, drinking the meaningless buzzing sound of existence with punctured ears.
Drown. Drown was all I could think, all I could command myself. But like a bloated body, filled with involuntary gases which are the only remains of a shattered physique, I would not sink. Forced, uncontrolled, mindless, my own sense of self would stay afloat. How I wished for it to drown but all that was possible was to keep floating. And I float still. Afloat in this endless void, I release a crimson line into the stillness. A child sometimes cries for no reason but to wake his parent, to draw attention, to be held because he is too ashamed to simply ask for a hug. So am I, ashamed to wake you for an embrace. And so, only a thin line of crimson, afloat in this ending void, screams out in silence. Ha, an oxymoron. Useless devices held in flux by our own abilities to be gray. How fitting.
In any case, I have forced this to be the centre of our journey. With the force of my own despair, used as an antique wedge to a bole or bark, I have driven a milestone into the ground. From here, I hope to start climbing. Slowly reaching for the crimson rope, I shutter out the pain that grips my hand as it grips the cord. I open my eyes and stare deep into the void around me, discerning the shaky pattern that grips them in an ever effervescent dance of subtlety. And I swear. I swear deep and true, dredging the bottoms of my tar-soul, finding the willbediamonds and gripping them fierce. And I attach the cord back, feeding it into my legs, my back, my neck. A loop. A loop of blood. I cup my hands beneath my bleeding throat and drink deep of my own crimson fluid. And so, the murder becomes propulsion.
Here we go.
I set the void on fire.
It’s like driving home through a storm. The water is running underneath your car, what you would like to view as an extension of yourself. It runs in rivulets and pools in pools, feeding on its expected nature, responding to your siren calls. You see it as rain, remember it as rivers, dream it as waterfalls. A mirror runs across your cheek, lost brethren to the music outside, calling from inside you to its lost sisters that commit suicide on your windshields. The rain intensifies. You begin to grow afraid, part from the extremism of current conditions, part a silent shudder running up the stem of your brain rooted in some things that you will never utter.
It’s like the middle of the road home through a storm. The ubiquity of the water is terrifying so you make up rules. Now the road rises, that must mean that I’ll see some rivers now but there won’t be pools at the top because that’s not how water works dammit! Now we’re going down so I should expect pools at the bottom, better drive slow. But the truth is, you cannot control the things that truly make this system go: the faults in the drainage.
It’s like the end of the road home through a storm. You look back on the road you’ve made and realize how much you were at the mercy of the drainage system and the thousands upon thousands of feelers it stretches underneath all the cities everywhere. A man went home early, drainage broke, a pool formed, a fear planted in your heart, a slight moment of lost control. A road suffered more wind since a tree was felled, its edges corroded, a rumbling was set in motion, your foot clenches on the brakes, your eyes tighten. And you lose yourself in this flaw, in this all too human thought about chaos and systems and patterns and random and where you fit in all of this. It comforts you.
It’s like the moment when you go to sleep later that evening, after driving home through a storm. A creeping comes upon you, something that mirrors on your cheek, the fear that you felt in the heart of the light, the heart of the noise and absolute silence of storms. You realize you said were. We’re at the mercy of the drainage system. But the realization comes upon you, like a predator, where you thought you were safe, it comes upon you. You are at the mercy of the drainage system. You feel the valves that are rooted in the insane pits of your thought, the pipes that are laid from the cistern of your words and you know fear again.
It’s like the deep of the night when you’re asleep, after driving home through a storm. You seek escape in sleep but even there you can feel the drainage system. Worse than that, more wisdom is forthcoming: sleep is the drainage system. It’s the valves and the pumps and the pressure holds and the bolts and the ducts of everything that counts. And it too, is random. No, it’s the source of random. Dreams flow forever on corroded roads beneath the ground, where a faint rhythm echoes from the center you imagine to yourself. Reaching, yearning, for the “close” valve, you break your nails on the rusted metal only to discover there is no “close” valve. There is no “open” valve.
There is only driving home through a storm. Only the end of the road through the storm. Only the moment when you go to sleep later that evening. Only the deep of the night when you’re asleep. Through a storm.
Followed am I through the tears of wretched fogs, hunted along paths that I have set myself. Silently, I figure that the stars in their random motions will hide me if I only turn so, if only gesture thus, if I only end there. But the doing, the doing is a different matter. When the hounds are silent is when fear rises for followed I am across the stepping stones of my own trepidation. Bewildered, I tumble like a Sufi mystic, flowing white robes stained by the hands of cliché gods, unfurled at the whim of over-told winds, bereft at the edges of endless tapestries that mean nothing. And so, onwards I pace while above me a burning void beckons, offering child-like hands for the caressing, forgotten-like eyes for the wondering, ending-like bones for collecting. Feeling the flames that burn above, I struggle to keep my eyes on the path.
Finally, sweat overcomes me. The pulsating waves which are my own emotions being burned, being digested, being fabricated, surround me on all battled edges. To my knees falling I come, like a supplicant before the discarded totem of his own memory. And everywhere, as if by magic, the burning void awaits me. I am surrounded but not pressured, caged but not against my will. Faintly, I feel my heart beating a tiny staccato, a foxtrot of the soul, the last waltz of resistance. I should have a sword, thinks I, a fine thing. I would attempt to draw it in a last gesture of defiance, only to fall at the feet of this corroding statue. My skin would be porcelain then, feeding off the flames, discarded. But there is no sword. The path buckles beneath my fingers and I realize I am not done. Rising to aching knees, I look around me for direction. Yes, the stones still stretch to some horizons, still attempt to hug the impossible inner distance of my words. Well then, if a road presents itself, who am I not to follow?
Followed am I through the veils of clutching faces, chased along dreams that I have burnt myself. With a shout, I exhort the stars to release their random secrets that will reveal me if I only turn so, if only gesture thus, if only end here. But the singing, the singing is a different matter. When the choir is silent is when hope rises for followed I am across the threshold of my homestead. Liberated, I tumble like a lost child, flowing white robes stained by the hands of self-murdered gods, unfurled at the whim of never-spoken winds, bereft at the beginning of an endless tapestry that means everything. And so, backwards I turn while above me a burning void embraces me, offering child-like hands for the escape, forgotten-like eyes for the finding, ending-like bones for burying. Feeling the flames that burn above, I struggle to tear my eyes from the path.
Followed am I. I feel my own icy breath on the back of my neck. Serpent images are beckoned from the deep. Eyes turn inwards, knees turn downwards, body crashes forward. Supplicant, I give praise to my own fire-starter, to my own fuel cord, to my own match. The flames flicker out. The void is restored. And in its center:
Calm. Infinite roads stretch from an epicenter of the mind. Eloquent blues paint around the hills. A soft wind plays around cheekbones, plays inside cavities, plays inside nasal tunnels, plays inside thoughts. Above, the stars no longer wheel. Halted, they asphyxiate on a single spoke, a nail driven into the sky. Rust is the color of the nail. Rust, is the color. The prairie is littered with shells, hollowed out memories of words, hollowed in threads of purpose, hallowed potsherds of forgotten empires of intention. From the belly of the land, from the place where emotion flows into supposition, supposition into action, action into denial, denial into misery, misery into the belly of the land, rises the nail, the rusted nail.
Across it, a figure of me runs. Into the sky, on a stellar highway of rust, on the smell of blood forgotten, on the tinge of iron, on the spoke of gut, a figure of me runs. To where, I do not know. Discarded, still while the figure runs, I lie. All porcelain now forgotten, all swords now shattered, all cords now furled inside. The joints of my hands are white, not from struggle, but from the faint light that is released from halted stars. They shine brighter for having stopped. They shine brighter for the rust. The figure of me is dull, shadowed, leeched of light, or love, or darkness.
This used to be void. I was scared then, but I knew nothing. I invited the nail, the raising of the monument. I imagined myself chased while I was being welcomed, thought myself a silence when I was noise, created myself a portrait when I was a landscape. Now, I am still left with the same tools but the intentions slowly shift. I lie, still. Halted, I can release. Like the stars, I shine brighter for having stopped. The fire is still but more potent, searing the insides of me, the rusted insides of me. And I can’t stop. Can’t stop burning.
And so, instead of water I yearn for fuel. And so, instead of release, I climb the nail. Balancing the edge, eating the border, masking the defeat, I run towards the stars. Still behind me, runs the cord, the tether, the anchor. I feel it but do not see, find it where it did not hide. Ignoring it, I run. The stars are porcelain, the sword, the rust, the highway to themselves. The highway towards me. The tether tugs. It grows tight. I am halted, violently, falling to my knees. I grip the nail with my hands, grip my hands with my pride and tear.
I hold a sliver of rust in my hands. I turn. I strike. I cut.
I. Release the tether. I. Strike the cord. I. End the silence.
I trust. The dark.
It’s a field. When darkness finally descends, it’s a field. All day the sun has been blinking but now it’s finally gone to sleep. The humming of people, the braying of oxen, the silence of work, are gone. In the darkness, only the rush of the wind through trees, like a slow clapping, flows around me. Kneeling, my hands dig into the dirt. It is not a pleasant feeling but a needed feeling. It’s a field, I whisper to the grass, I whisper to the trees, I whisper to the brook, I whisper to the wind, I whisper to the lady bug, I whisper to the dung, I whisper to the night, it’s a field.
The earth supports me. I am her child. In the distance, the hills can be glimpsed, glittering in the million million shattered lights of the stars through leaves. A hill stands out, stands out from the felt corpse of the land. Like honey trickles into the pot, the earth slowly, slowly, slowly gathers towards a tor. My eyes sliver past the darkness, brush against the night, forgetting it is dark. I see, I see the tor. My feet start moving, dragged by the inexorable gravity that is the tide, the shift, the lay of the land. To turn seems to me an unimaginable effort, the breaker holding back the sea, the lighthouse holding back the storm, the vessel tacking against all the wind. And so, dragged, my feet create furrows across the field, in the fallow, over the criss-cross of the day’s work. It is a field.
A thousand lips kiss my ankles as my feet start climbing, slowly embraced in a lilted dance, a lurid clapping of tiny hands on bear flesh. I want to collapse, to sit forever in the grass, to eat forever the blades and drink forever the dew. But the tor calls on. Gently, the wind nudges at the nape of my neck, shivers following its touch like a silken thunder following a muted flash. Hold, step, hold, step, breathe, hold, step. Up the tor the thousand rushing hands urge me, up the tor to see the night. With a slow and familiar susurration, my hands move by my side, tracking lazy seconds as they drift by. I stop.
Turning, as if some cork has been unwound, I turn to survey the near past. It is a field. From here, the minute details of the day’s work, the paths of where the oxen plowed, the depth of the mounds created by the boots of workers, is unclear. It is a field. At the far end stands a tree, the tree. I am pushed gently back into the day, silently laid down by the arms of memory. I remember the light breaking through the leaves, the bark rough against my skin. I remember her hand running down my cheek. I remember the cries of the bees, the song of the tree, the daze of the free. I remember her hand running down my cheek. I remember her tears carving a small creek, in the base of my neck, where the chest joins the shoulder. I remember her sheltered, me sheltered, us unending, in the light of the bees.
I turn to face the tor.
I liken it to dying. I liken it to birthing storms. Standing on that top, back to the world, wind in my face. My hand reaches out, feeling for the warmth of the bark, the empathy and mystery that only a tree can’t quite give and yet promises. Finding it, feeling the pocked skin of a nevergreen, an alwaysgreen, a somethingelsethangreen, I lean on it hard. Sap fills my nostrils, banishing for a second the harsh ozone of the storm. Opening my eyes then, I survey my world. Rain. The first thing is rain, calmly descending on the lush fields of clouds below. It cares not on what it lands below, only that it passes through the bottom clouds, completing a journey from an unknown height that I can only sense, like an itch on the top of your head that you cannot quite locate or reach.
Then, there is sound. The sweet rustling of the rain through clouds, the silent, temperate breathing of myself, the notsound of the comforting tree. I am tempted to close my eyes again, but all births must be borne through with eyes open lest the child become a human. And so, with storms in mind, the third thing is the stinging. Held open against the wind, held open for the rain, held inside and outside for the hill, I gaze into the clouds. A few days ago I would have attempted to pierce through the clouds, to glimpse the land that lies below. Now, all I do is take it in. Gently swaying, in time with the wind, I allow the view to be what it is, allow the storm to silently contour what I am.
Slowly, there is music. Into the wind the hill leans, breaking ancient currents. A slow keening unfolds, speaking the pain of the birthing of storms, speaking my pain for just a few moments. I open my mouth, water slowly filling every cavity, every tongue-absent crevice. My throat is the perfect receptacle, vibrating in time with the wind, with the pain, with the hill. The blades of grass, once a thousand tiny hands clasped around my ankles, now sing in time. The hill becomes a sounding room, a place where echoes are given life, borne alongside storms. In a daze now, I begin to walk. Softly, like cushions for the treading, the grass accepts my feet and raises them ever so slightly.
At last, there is the slope. The hill slowly rises behind me and my hands are spreadeagled now, embracing without thought all that they can scoop. The rain intensifies. The wind continues. The sound escapes me. The music abates. Standing, alone now, I realize I have forgotten the tree, the nevergreen, the notquitegreen. Too late now. I turn one last time to survey my path. Somehow, by some trick of perspective and water, I can see the field. But the hill, the hill now captures most of the scene. And on it, of course, is the alwaysgreen, the tree, the staff, the shelter. I raise my hand to wave. It waves back. Singing again, I scream a faint goodbye. I do not know if it responds, but I do know that it is green. Turning, I face the storm, arms open, throat open, eyes open, song open.
I wish I could say I was regressing. But that would imply that the road behind me still exists. In the clouds now, in the fuzzy in between that I have created for myself, all signs of the present are absent. They’re not gone, for that would imply action on their part. There is only one actor here and he is the clouds. Slowly, they work their arms on the landscape, shaping what once might have been hills, trees, horizons, into an ubiquitous plain of muddled echoes. Right now, I am lost of my own volition. In the clouds through which I walk I can no longer see myself. What faint light I hoped for, what source of direction that might have been my lighthouse, is swallowed in the body of nearly-solid water. Through this, like a bell whose tongue has been covered in foam, echoes a single realization:
I did this because I’m afraid. I’m so afraid to end this. Inside, I look back at what’s been, still blindingly clear through the clouds. I can easily trace the shimmering railways of the paths I’ve trodden, feel the copper taste of the blood self inflected wounds have drawn. I am filled with awe, somewhere aside from the anger and hate, at the structures I survey. All the more grand in comparison to the mediocre surroundings I now find myself in. If this is the present, an occluded field, devoid of form or shape, what is the future? Nothing remains to rage against. Nothing remains to lean against. My fingers clench and un-clench, looking to grab some dirt, to strike at something. But all is cloud and striking at clouds is meaningless; all I’m left with is a faint tingling, a soft whisper and a ringing of bells in the distance. I can almost make out the harmony, come to terms with the song. In the background, faint cirrocumulus voices sing, like a choir dismembered across a vast distance. If I try, until the blood is rushing in my ears, I can hear their words:
Turn back. Every sinew of my mind softly beckons for me to turn back. It would have been easier had they shouted. Instead, soft implications, hollow requests, serpentine prayers. Slowly, patiently, worming themselves into my core, like an apple past its picking day. Stumbling, I reach out my hand but encounter only cloud. And so, losing balance, I crash to the soft ground underneath. Gone is the grass, suffocated by too much floating water. Gone is the hill, the tree, the field. All that remains is a colorless, formless mass. Soft beneath my fingers, it offers no resistance. I try to sculpt it, to make something that will last, but it will not take. Sobbing now, I turn to the side, all momentum robbed of me. Looking up, all I can see are clouds. Up and up, for what seems like forever, whiteness. The faint voices still sing, the faint words still somehow resound in the center of all this lost space. My mouth, my thirst slaked, my throat lubricated, forms words. Inquiring, begging, extolling, it says:
“Who. Who will create me again once I am gone. Who. Who will breathe life into me once the clouds come.
When I was a child, I had s special relationship with a garden. It filled my life and I filled its lanes. They seemed to contain endless life. Brilliantly, I remember parceled fragments of it, iconographed forever into the chapel of my mind. Littered among discarded balls, slowly waving leaves, carefully tended stones and distant dolmens made of trees are my own lanes. First memories and dreams, first fears and thoughts, nestled throughout the checkered corpse of what the garden was. Like a figure moving across a desert that never sleeps, I can at any moment sink into these lanes, swim in the fresh grass, gaze over the intimate horizon, caress the crescent of my own childhood. I go there rarely, both mentally and physically. For me it is a rarity of being, a state which is both intoxicating and dangerous as it contains myself in a nascent form, a fractal of who I am and will become.
But now, I turn to it. Lost in the shapeless clouds of my own fabrication, I am without purchase. I can feel the tender tendrils of the white water slowly slithering in my meditating mind, seeking to wrap themselves across the clotted nadir of my identity. I feel no anger towards them for they are not evil. They only do what water does best, cleaning cavities and leaving nothing behind but the shape of what was. The vessel without the substance. Before sinking, or are we after sinking, I reach out, hands flying to grasp at whatever strong point remains. And I find the garden. Now though there is something more. Imagine the face of your mother, slightly changed. Feel your hand running over the door to your own house, knowing something has changed in a subtle way. In the garden now, something minute yet monumental has shifted.
I have to get out. This is one place which I refuse to give you. With childish movements, newly powerful hands moving frantically, I smudge the leaves, the lanes, the dolmens, stealing them from your sight. Returning now with a jolt to the clouds, I hear someone screaming hoarsely before I realize it is me. No. No. There is a different way to leave this place or if I must give you the garden to leave it then I’d rather stay here forever. Rising now, shaking off the lethargy borne on my shoulders for so long, I scream a torch into existence. Waving it around me, I scream fire into its head, into your head, into my head. Around me the white walls are receding. In their dying, sinuous arms I can see images of what was so far: islands, corners, cicadas, her, kings, edges, her, her, cores, coils, bridges, her, she, her, companion, lover, her, her, a road, she, she.
Her. Was this all about her? For now, yes. I am in the middle of the garden now, in my mental flesh. Not observing but there. And yes, all lanes lead to her. All leaves bow to her. All dolmens sing to her. And I’m done. I won’t give you the garden and I won’t give her the garden. Stoking the forge I find here, I begin to set fire to the hive. Lanes twist in burning under burnt twisting leaves that wave between crumbling dolmens. The structure of the garden slowly blows away, turned to charcoal bones. At some point I closed my eyes against the heat. Now, the wind slowly speaks to me a single word, a single world that I had forgotten: “Open”.
And open I shall.
Do you know that faint feeling of being pulled by an accelerating vehicle? It’s a warm tug, an inward sensation of being held to one direction. I remember clearly such a moment, endlessly falling into a pleasant curve, dragged by benign forces of getting from A to B into the distance. Closing eyes, I feel delicate sunlight on my shoulder, head resting, pressed against a murky window. It’s plastic, my forehead slowly sinking into the semi-liquid material. Opening eyes, I can see brown dirt, grey building, blue sky, needless activity. Sighing inwardly, I slowly turn my head to the other side. In between my eyes, an ocean of light swims softly. Yes the susurration says yes you can give in you can let go you can end you can be still.
So, I am still. Around me, ashes of a garden swirl in a zeroing in whirlpool, circumventing the epicenter which is I. The story has grown thin, dear reader. The Demented World lies before us, decelerating in the void which it has always occupied. My fingers are heavy from typing, my tongue is weary from talking to myself, my words are laden from creating. And you to, I see into your heart and I find heaviness there. But, before I fully sleep, before all realizations are tucked in to the comfort of the bed of our convictions, I find the need to regale you one last time, or twice, or thrice. We’ll see.
Do you know that faint feeling of everywhere? When you have shown yourself door, thoroughly assisted yourself in exiting silently off center stage? It’s a silent hand on the shoulder, your own, reaching around your inhibitions and showing yourself the lane to everywhere. Yes, I remember a day when I was bathed in green and eaten by white, gazing blindly at a sky that blinked and blinked and blinked in front of me. The door was shown, the key was turned and, falling away from the grass and the slope, I found myself everywhere. Yes, there was a hug there and a faint kiss on one cheek. And then the other.
Why then do I still sit in this garden? All that remains here are ashes but they speak to me. Whispering, on the edges of my hearing, the ashes tell me all that I have told you. Do you see? Do you see? I am not the storyteller here at all. I am only a messenger of ashes, only a herald of tiny storms, only a preacher of forsaken poems. I am sorry, dear reader. So sorry. I have mislead you. None of this is about me. None of this was felt by me. None of this was experienced by me. It was all The Demented World. And I am no longer it. I am no longer the World, the world, the word. Set ablaze, what I maybe, maybe, was is not me anymore. And so, while recreated in a crucible of pain, I am still a liar.
Do you know the feeling of letting go? Neither do I. This is what I must unlearn: to hold to pay to own to seek to tread to weave. I will engrave this on my heart that even now flutters. Forget to hold, to keep for yourself. Forget to pay, to divide and breathe. Forget to own, to fight and achieve. Forget to seek, to dream and speak. Forget to tread, to pace and heave. Forget to weave. Forget to weave. Faintly, I remember this moment. In the future, some I is looking back and remembering this, the window, the darkness, the vibrations, the room, the hands, the hair, the eyes, now closed, the throat, the silent breath, the letting go of breath, the realization. The moment when the weave was set, when the weave was ended, when the weave was created. And he is not me and I will be him. I will be him, I will be I.
I am no longer the World, the world, the word. Dear reader, read me as you have: I am no longer the word, the world, the World.